A dentist is calling for a change to government policy as practices continue to pay business rates – despite their high street neighbours being relieved of the requirement.
As part of the pandemic economic response, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that retail, leisure and hospitality properties will no longer have to pay business rates for the year 2020/21.
Yet dental practices are not eligible for the same relief – sparking calls for the rates holiday to be extended.
James Goolnik is the director and founder of Bow Lane Dental Group. He believes the exclusion of dentistry highlights the disparity in the government’s financial measures in response to COVID-19.
He said: ‘We carry on paying full business rates despite being ordered to shut our doors. I’m not sure why the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is picking on dental practices – perhaps they do not see the value of oral health?
‘They seem to have a disregard for all medical services – for example, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors and vets are still having to pay. The difference is most vets and doctors are still able to open to care for their patients.
‘We have been forced to close by PHE and CDO and get no business rates discount or grants. I’m not sure why they are singling out private dentistry.
‘NHS dental practices can get rebates and grants but private dentistry, making up more than half of the sector with approximately 5,500 practices get no help.
‘Make it an even playing field – exempt all dental practices in the UK that have been forced to close to be exempt from business rates until they can open again.’
Nowhere to go
Taking to Twitter, James pointed out that most other businesses near his practice are not having to make rates payments.
He said: ‘All the shops in my street do not pay rates and are eligible for grants – the pub, beauty salon, restaurants, coffee shops, hotel, gym and theatre. This really highlights the disparity despite all being in the same situation.’
Additionally, he called for those self-employed dentists earning more than £50,000 to also have access to the income replacement scheme. Currently, this is only available to self-employed professionals earning under £50,000.
He also urged for the correct PPE to be made available so that urgent dental care centres can relieve the NHS of some pressure.
‘The profession is scared and angry that our patients have nowhere to go,’ he said.
‘Most dental pain is inflammatory in nature. Before this pandemic we would be struck off for giving antibiotics and painkillers for dental pain now that is all we can do.
‘We want to get back to treat dental emergencies to take the pressure off the NHS, using evidence-based cross infection measures and the correct PPE.’
British Association of Private Dentistry
Following a number of frustrations over the financial support available for private dentistry, dentists have come together to form the British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD).
It was set up by Dr Luke Thorley, practice principal at Royal Wharf Dental in London, alongside a number of colleagues.
The key focus is to find a way to safely and effectively provide patient care to those in most need during the coronavirus crisis.
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